• Jonathan Bloom writes about why we waste food, why it matters and what we can do about it. This is his blog.

What’s In Your Trash?

I’m a little unclear on why an insurance company commissioned this awesome trash composition infographic, but I’m not complaining. In fact, I think it’s a fabulous way to convey how wasteful we are with all of our resources. And, yeah, I’m a sucker for a good infographic.

Two quick notes:
–The 13.9% stat is a bit misleading. When you factor in recycling of all materials, food scraps make up 20.5% of what ends up in the landfill (see table 11).

–Waste incineration has its drawbacks, too.

February 6, 2012 | Posted in Waste Stream | Comments closed

Friday Buffet

Anyone looking to rescue some food should check out this awesome produce recovery guide. Thanks to Rotary First Harvest for putting out the uber-useful guide.

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UCSB has begun a student-led composting project. The best part is that students are the ones doing the sorting. While that means a lower food waste capture rate than when staff do the sorting, it ups the awareness quotient!

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Saving money by composting? A Montana food bank is doing just that by composting their own waste. Would that composting was always less expensive than using the landfill!

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Uh oh, some bad news from the UK: Grocers failed to meet their self-imposed food waste reduction goals. The British Retail Consortium announced the news in their progress report.

February 3, 2012 | Posted in College, Composting, Food Recovery, International, Supermarket | Comments closed

Cap’n Cattle Feed

Forget grass-fed beef, how about Cap’n Crunch-fed?

An article in Harvest reports that, often, more than half of cattle feed comes from food manufacturing excess. The mix of scraps and seconds that used to be the domain of hogs, is becoming increasingly common with cattle.

My first thought: what a nice use of excess materials that keeps food from going to the landfill. My second: What kind of stuff are we talking about?

Jeff Clausen manages 3,000 cattle in two feedlots outside of Omaha, Neb. He says the majority of his cattle’s feed is bakery byproduct – bread, dough and pastries that get burned or misformulated.

Hmm…But they also use Quaker Oats byproduct, which feels a little better. But as we keep reading, we learn that:

Even candy manufacturers have seconds. For example, the Hershey Company sells their candy that isn’t up to snuff for humans to the ag company Cargill, for use in livestock feed.

Rest assured, though–Twizzlers aren’t included, as they’re too gummy. Just a guess, but feeding excess candy, pastries, and sugary cereal (in addition to below-grade soybean oil) to livestock must have side effects.

I could be wrong, but I’m guessing it isn’t healthy for cattle to consume high amounts of sugar.  A quick web search reveals that there is such a thing as bovine diabetes. Going one step further, do those of us who eat beef want to consume meat of unhealthy or sugar-addled animals?

February 1, 2012 | Posted in Processing Plants, Waste Stream | Comments closed

Monday Leftovers

South Koreans will soon be getting used to weight-based waste bins that charge residents for the amount of food waste they create. Swipe cards will help the machines keep track of who wastes what. It’s the latest waste-reduction step for a nation without much room. (They’ve already banned food from landfills.)

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Students at Missouri are apparently cool with trayless dining. Also–there’s a student paper called The Maneater?!

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A UK restaurant was caught dumping food waste into their neighbor’s dumpster. Oops.

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Unilever is hoping to help food service companies Wise up on Waste.

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Let me know if I missed anything else in the food waste world late last week–I was busy welcoming my second child into the world (while trying hard not to notice the abundant hospital food waste)!

January 30, 2012 | Posted in College, Friday Buffet, International, Trayless | Comments closed

Mutato Project

I love produce that has…character. You know, the stuff that looks–pick one–quirky, ugly or odd. When I find especially striking examples, I do this:

Uli Westphal is a German photographer who also enjoys “non-standard fruits, roots and vegetables.” Except when he finds interesting examples, being a professional photographer, he does this:

What could be better than creating beautiful art out of nature’s oddities? Not much. That’s why I’m excited that Uli has agreed to exhibit some of the fabulous images from his Mutato Project in my site’s Gallery.

Enjoy your browsing, and remember–amazingly–the “mutatoes” pictured are all actual, bona fide food items.

January 25, 2012 | Posted in Farm, International | Comments closed

Monday Leftovers

On the heels of Friday’s major outcry against waste by the EU Parliament, the head of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization spoke out against food waste this weekend. In other words, this issue is picking up steam.

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How did I not know there was a Discard Studies blog before now? A recent post features a fabulous array of infographics, or “theaters of proof.” Enjoy the show.

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Smart phones can help ensure food safety? And potentially let you see the cow your milk came from? Smile, Bessie! Or Cow 8261.

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Compost, trash or disposal? Easy decision, right? Not so much, as we learn in this helpful flow chart.

January 23, 2012 | Posted in Composting, Environment, Food Safety, Stats, Waste Stream | Comments closed

Europe Declares War on Waste

Yesterday was a massive day in food waste news, as the European Parliament passed a resolution* targeting its reduction.

More specifically, Parliament called on the European Commission to tackle waste through an ambitious goal of halving food waste by 2025. And setting the stakes for inaction–waste will increase by 40 percent if nothing is done.

The resolution specifically pushed for many waste-reducing measures, like less confusing date labeling on food packaging, a wider range of package sizes with perishables, and country-specific food-waste-prevention targets by 2014.

The resolution also urged further education on the issue: EU and national food waste awareness campaigns, declaring a European Year Against Waste in 2014 (pushed back from 2013), and school courses teaching better food storage, cooking and disposal.

Salvatore Caronna, the Member of European Parliament (MEP) assigned to investigate the issue, provides some perspective:

For the first time a European institution is raising the point and it is going to goad the other institutions to act as well. Now the ball is in the Commission’s court and the Commission is going to have to very swiftly come up with replies.

In the coming days and weeks, we shall see if the European Commission, a 27 member executive body, is up to the task. Let’s hope they can continue the momentum and strike a blow against food waste!

* For the full text of the 2011/2175(INI), go here, download the Word doc and scroll to page 327! And here’s a way to trace the resolution’s evolution.

January 20, 2012 | Posted in International | Comments closed

Keepin’ it Real…Ugly

It can get a little ugly when I go to the farmer’s market. Just this ugly:

These are actual (greenhouse-grown) peppers bought at The Durham Farmer’s Market this past weekend. No photoshopping, I promise.

Despite their shar-pei appearance,  they were delicious. Proving once again that food doesn’t have to look perfect or homogeneous to taste great.

And now–these beauts are ready for their closeups:

January 17, 2012 | Posted in Farmers' Market, Personal | Comments closed

Friday Buffet

If you missed the Food Network’s The Big Waste, here’s a recap, complete with screen shots. And here is some further thought, complete with big picture suggestions.  Reminder: the show reairs Saturday at 4pm EST and Sunday at 5pm EST.

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Dana Gunders at the NRDC blog considers how we’re composting $175 per year unnecessarily.

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UK retailer Marks & Spencer will soon carry new ethylene-absorbing packaging that will keep fruit fresh for a few more days. Because every little bit helps…

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Not to be outdone, British baked goods company Warburtons is making a push to make its supply chain less wasteful.

January 13, 2012 | Posted in Composting, Friday Buffet, Household, International | Comments closed

Reducing Waste For The Win

Forget Monday’s boring national championship game. The real college champion crowned this week is Marist College. Yup–Marist!

The pride of Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) won the EPA WasteWise Game Day Challenge in the Per Capita Organics Reduction category. If you select ‘Organics Reduction’ in the pulldown menu, you will see that tiny Marist destroyed the competition, outpacing both the green giants at the University of Colorado at Boulder and those Harvard overachievers.

And it seems Marist may have a bit of a dynasty brewing. They won the inaugural organics challenge in 2010. Go Red Foxes!

Check here to see if your school participated.

January 11, 2012 | Posted in College, Waste Stream | Comments closed
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